Sarawak Women's Society calls for equality for Malaysian mothers

KUCHING: The Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) is urging all political parties to support amending the Federal Constitution swiftly to ensure gender equality for Malaysian mothers.

Concurring with other women's groups, SWWS said the word "father" in the Second Schedule should be replaced by "parent" in conveying citizenship to children born overseas.

"We are appalled by the recent majority decision of the Court of Appeal which denied Malaysian women married to foreigners the same rights as Malaysian men to automatically pass on their citizenship to their children born overseas.

"This overturning of last year’s High Court ruling which had agreed with the women has left those affected broken-hearted and others bemused," SWWS said in a statement on Monday (Aug 8).

The society said the current system for mothers to apply for citizenship for their children under Article 15(2) of the Constitution was "notoriously slow".

It cited a recent answer to a question in Parliament which revealed that from 2018 to mid-2022, only 26 out of 3,407 applications in this category received a response, with 19 successful and seven rejected.

"The reasons for rejection are rarely given, so asking women to be patient and to use the existing channels is condemning children to a wait which could be longer than their lives.

"This is totally unacceptable. For the sake of the children and their mothers, this discriminatory action needs to be urgently halted," SWWS said.

The society added that Parliament had passed an amendment to the Federal Constitution in 2001 to ensure no discrimination in Malaysian laws on grounds of gender.

"The (Court of Appeal's) decision negates previous assurances that Malaysia protects women against discrimination within its Constitution.

"Such blatant gender inequality is against the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women which Malaysia has signed," it added.

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